Customer interviews are one of the greatest sources of learning about your customer in a fast way. Unfortunately it is not easy to ask the right questions and crucial to know how to talk to customers. In this post we take a look at why interviews are important and what to look for. We’ll check into all the other important parts of interviews in separate posts later. Let us know if you have specific problem we should address next 🙂

Why not just ask customers what they want?

Well, in fact it depends a lot on the way you frame your questions. People may tell you what they want, but it may finally not be what makes them happy and what they’ll actually use. Just remember that 4 out of 5 gym members go unused. The dominant way of the food industry to understand what customers want traditionally hab been to ask customer in surveys that easily can scale. For 20 or 30 years they arranged focus groups and asked them questions like: „How can we improve our spaghetti sauce?“. In all those years, not a single survey resulted in making the sauce „chunky“. Howard Moskowitz – whom you may know as the reinventor of the spaghetti sauce – approached the issue differently and simply tested the market with different spaghetti sauces. He found out, that actually 30% of the population preferred extra chunky spaghetti sauce despite the fact, that not a single participant of the focus groups ever expressed that. When Prego reformulated their sauce, they took over the market with a huge success. As Howard loves to say, „The mind knows not what the tongue wants.“ Watch this inspiring TED talk for the whole story. This is already pretty cool. But it’s also a case of trial and error and does not provide guidance to better solutions. There are plenty of other similar stories out there. Just Google „faster horses“ and you will discover another one like this. You also likely may know a popular quote by Steve Jobs: „people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.“ So, just building what Customers want may be futile – that’s why you shouldn’t them for the solution. Instead, try to focus on the job that needs to be solved. Watch this amazing talk by Clayton Christiansen to learn about how to get better access to solution ideation. Summing it up – before investing into building a solution, make sure that you understood the job you are solving and for whom.

Get your pocket guide to get started!

After running Customer Interviews for several years, we have summed up our own pro tips with the best practices we found from customer development experts world wide. So we’re proud to present our straight forward pocket guide. And you have a chance to get one! Submit the form below and share why you want one and we’ll send it to you by mail. Credits go to @robfitz for his amazing book The Mom Test and to Justin Wilcox and @CustomerDevLabs for his awesome interview template format. Don’t hesitate – watch Justin’s videos and buy Rob’s book. Seriously!

Would you like one of our Customer Interview Pocket Guides? Send us an email to with you’re shipping details and how many pocket guides you like to get.